It’s a Saturday morning and the sounds of kids playing drifts across Acomita Lake on a slight breeze.
Waves lap at the shoreline while the lonely wail of train’s horn sounds in the distance.
Mount Taylor looms on the horizon and the shoreline is busy with early spring anglers despite the fact that Acomita Lake is one of New Mexico’s better kept, top secret, fishing holes.
“We used to come here years ago,” said Tim Davidson, 57, a school teacher out of Shiprock. “It’s my first time back since and it’s nice to be here again.”
Holding a stringer full of nice, fat, trout, Davidson says the fishing was pretty good this late March morning.
Like many other tribal operators around the state, Acoma Pueblo’s Acomita Lake, is gearing up for an influx of stir crazy anglers looking for relief.
The lake had been closed for years while pueblo officials pondered what to do with an aging dam, declining irrigation use and other factors, says Ian Tator, 32, formerly of Lumberton, who is now Director of Game and Fish for the pueblo.
Having reopened last year to rave reviews from serious anglers, one would be hard pressed to find any information about the lake online or in fishing reports.
But that’s changing this year with radio and billboard ads now appearing and web pages to be posted so interested anglers can find out more about this hot spot on the angling circuit.
Tator, a New Mexico State University graduate with degrees in wildlife and fisheries science, says the trout population in the lake is good because it had been stocked several years ago but hadn’t been opened to fishing until last year.
The 75-acre lake is up to 45-feet deep in places and the trout population has held up well without experiencing any winter or summer die-offs due to extreme temperatures, he says.
Nonetheless, it’s Tator’s hope that they will be able to purchase oxygen diffusers to help enrich the water and improve the fishery sometime in the near future. The lake holds mostly rainbow trout but Brown and Snake River cutthroats trout are scheduled for stocking this year.
Tator says those using small boats and float tubes outfitted with battery-operated trolling motors have done well due to their ability to move about the lake to locate schools of fish. No boats over 20 feet long are allowed and gas motors are prohibited also.
Tator says typical flies such as Wooley Boogers and bead-head nymphs fished deep on sinking tip fly lines work well while those fishing the bank with spinning lures, worms or power bait have had success too.
Tator recommends that those who don’t mind wading should work the marshier, north end of the lake where many fish have been congregating.
“We strive for a nice clean environment here,” Tator says. “The fishing is excellent and it’s just a great place to get away from it all.”
Fishing costs $20 for adults with a five-fish bag limit, kids under 12 years old fish for $8 with a three-fish bag limit.
Well behaved dogs, leashed or under voice command, are allowed while alcohol, guns and swimming are not. There is no handicap access as of yet.
The lake is open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday through Sunday and a limited supply of tackle, snacks and refreshments are available at the small store on site.
Acomita Lake is located about 18 miles shy of Grants, just off I-40, at the San Fidel exit. Potential visitors can call (505) 552-9866 for more info.
Tator noted that pueblo will host a fishing derby on Father’s Day in June with a top prize of $50,000 for the lucky angler who catches the tagged fish. Entry is $50 and there will be other prizes awarded for those who catch an additional 14 tagged fish, Tator said.
Those looking for tribal fishing a little closer to Santa Fe can head up to San Ildefonso Pueblo where a fabled, giant trout sporting a red plastic tag has still yet to be caught and cashed in for $200, says Ray Flores, Director of Parks and Wildlife for the Pueblo.
The fish is reported to be in the 25- to 27-inch range and was stocked with many other monster trout a couple of years ago, Flores says.
“People have caught him but nobody can seem to land him,” Flores says. “A kid just got him within six feet of the bank but then he broke him off.”
San Ildefonso’s friendly informal fishing pond sits amid the shade of the Bosque and is easily navigated by the handicapped and elderly, Flores says. Senior groups and school classes are welcome and can obtain steeply discounted rates, he says.
Fishing at San Ildefonso costs $12 for adults with a six-fish bag limit, kids, veterans and seniors pay just $6. The pond is open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays and 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekends. Well behaved leashed dogs are welcome.
And those in the mood for a little high country fishing need only head up to Nambe Lake and Falls where the heavily stocked waters, cool climate and expansive vistas make for an enjoyable day.
Adults pay $15 with a new limit of just five fish, down from seven in years past, says Joe Vigil, Chief Ranger.
“The costs of buying fish have gone up along with everything else,“ Vigil said.
Nambe Lake features good bank fishing and allows small boats with electric motors, float tubes and rafts. Well behaved dogs on leashes are welcome. Anglers will find some fishing supplies and a limited amount of groceries and ice at the ranger’s shed at the entrance to the lake.
If You Go:
Acomita Lake is located off I-40, between Albuquerque and Grants. Take the San Fidel exit, # 100. San Ildefonso Pueblo is off State Road 502 on the way to Los Alamos, follow the signs. Nambe Lake and Falls is off State Road 503, the back road to Chimayo, follow the signs.